Chicago Heights candlelight vigil hopes to raise awareness about drug addiction and overdose deaths

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CHICAGO (WLS) – A candlelight vigil was held in Chicago Heights on Saturday, hoping to raise awareness about drug addiction and overdose.

Breana Betancourt’s birthday was supposed to be March 22, but died of a drug overdose in 2019 with drugs purchased just up the street from Town Hall – the site where she, as well as other victims of drug overdoses, were recalled this weekend.

“I felt like I was supposed to take this tragedy and turn it around,” said Aisha Betancourt, who lost her daughter to a drug overdose. “Everyone who knew my daughter knew she was so friendly. She could talk to anyone. From all walks of life. She was bold, she was fun. I think she wanted to.

Ninety-three thousand Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2020. This number is 29% higher than the previous year.

RELATED: Drug Overdose Death Toll Rises Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

According to the CDC, fentanyl – a substance increasingly found in more and more drugs – was involved in nearly 2/3 of them.

“I lost my husband on August 25, 2018, to an overdose of heroin and fentanyl,” said Anna Ippolito.

That’s why, during the overdose awareness event, Ippolito, along with others who experienced the same loss, distributed information resources. They also distributed free doses of Narcan, a drug known to treat opioid overdoses if given on time.

“I am a Narcan survivor. I have my own story,” said Kimberly Ramirez, a former drug addict who has lost two brothers to a drug overdose. “I became a drug addict; I was a drug addict. I was an IV user and I’m not ashamed to say it today. I lost two brothers and education needs to come out of it. “

If you or someone you know is addicted to it, there is help. You can call the statewide helpline at 1 (833) 234-6343 or text “Help” to 833234 to find the first step in recovery.

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